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Can John Kasich break out of the GOP pack? He deserves to

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Jim Cole/AP

(Read caption) Ohio Gov. John Kasich (c.), flanked by Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (l.) and former New York Gov. George Pataki (r.) listen to another candidate speak during a forum Monday, in Manchester, N.H. Kasich's recent poll results earned him a place in the first prime time Republican presidential debate, Thursday.

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It’s no surprise that John Kasich is rising in the polls. I would expect that to continue.

If you want Donald Trump’s authenticity, Kasich has it. He won’t say anything as stupid as Trump, but John Kasich is not the well-handled politician. He is unconventional and he says things that are on his mind. He even says “I don’t know” when he doesn’t know, a refreshing break from most of these guys running for office.

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If you want Jeb Bush’s experience, Kasich has more of it. In fact, if you took a poll of congressional staff and ex-staff, I bet you Kasich would win that poll. His deep House experience actually produced results, and he knows how to get things done on the congressional level.

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If you want Marco Rubio’s life story, Kasich has a pretty good rags-to-riches story of his own. He is not the son of a bartender, but his father was a letter carrier, and he had to rebuild his life after his father and mother tragically lost their lives in a traffic accident.

If you want somebody who will take on corporate America like Rand Paul, Kasich had deep experience in that, too. Nobody has fought more battles to take on corporate welfare than the Ohio governor. He fought to weed out waste in the Pentagon, he tried to kill ineffective weapons programs, and he has fought subsidies left and right.

If you want somebody who can communicate with the working class like Mike Huckabee, especially working class Christian conservatives, Kasich is your man. He gets that not everybody is rich and that we have to help those who are struggling in this country. He is not going to do the bidding of the very wealthy, but he will stick up for those who need some breaks in life.

If you want somebody who has Lindsey Graham’s defense experience, Kasich’s 18 years serving on the Armed Services Committee should give you some reassurance. Kasich knows defense policy and he won’t be a pushover when it comes to Putin or ISIS.

It’s unlikely that Kasich would appeal to whoever Ted Cruz is appealing to, but that’s ok. Ted Cruz is an island onto himself.

Of the current governors running, Kasich comes from the most important electoral state, has the highest approval ratings, and has done the most to turn his state around. Walker and Christie talk the talk, but only Kasich has really walked the walk.

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People brag about how Walker has won three elections in the blue state. But one of those elections was a recall election.

John Kasich is the real deal. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that he is rising in the polls. His appeal is far more than skin deep.

John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at